Guest post by Courtney Floyd, Food Allergy Parent
Where to start? When I was asked to contribute to FARE’s blog, I never would have thought that I would not know where to start. I am rarely at a loss for words on the topic of food allergies. However, I am not a writer by any means. My first instinct was to open a search engine and type “how to write a blog post.”
When I did, it dawned on me that this was the same course of action I undertook when my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies. Without having prior personal experience with food allergies, my first question was … where to start? I began to type “understanding food allergies,” “how to manage food allergies,” “my child has food allergies,” …a flurry of searches commenced as I tried to grasp what it meant to have this diagnosis. Though the search terms changed during my research binge, there remained one constant result that the search engine repeatedly provided, www.foodallergy.org. It was Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) that provided the most up-to-date information and tools needed to begin our food allergy journey, and it continues to be FARE that provides us with information on how to protect our child through each of life’s milestones.
During the myriad of visits to the FARE website, I noted a link for FARE’s Walk for Food Allergy. Our first FARE walk would prove to a remarkable opportunity to “support FARE’s mission, raise awareness, and connect with other passionate individuals and families in our community.” We were surrounded by others in the food allergy community with whom we had a great deal in common. They also:
- carried life-saving medication with them at all times;
- spent countless hours in the store checking labels;
- rarely dined at a restaurant for dinner;
- wanted to be included and not excluded;
- wanted so desperately to find a cure; and
- were the parents, families, and friends of the 15 million.
Following our participation in the FARE walk, we quickly realized that FARE provided much more than a way connect with other individuals and families in our community and an outlet to raise awareness and support advocacy initiatives and food allergy research. FARE provides a proverbial road map for families, friends, and those living with food allergies. FARE is my number one resource for the answers to so many food allergy questions that include…where to start?
- What are the symptoms of a food allergic reaction…where to start?
- How do I obtain assistance regarding epinephrine…where to start?
- How do I properly read a label for an allergen…where to start?
- Are there current studies we can participate in or learn more information about…where to start?
- My food allergic child will be starting school soon…where to start?
Beyond a FARE membership or attendance at the FARE National Food Allergy Conference, the newly reimagined Food Allergy Heroes Walk is something that we can participate in at the local level that will actively garner awareness, provide an opportunity to educate and advocate, and fund research and an organization that continues to provide the answers to my ever evolving…where to start? FARE provides invaluable advocacy, research, information and resources to millions of families and individuals. The FARE Walk is an excellent and enjoyable opportunity for anyone to become involved in FARE and to contribute to the organization so that:
- the “where to starts” of the 15 million Americans living with food allergies, their families and friends, can continue to be answered;
- the 15 million Americans living with food allergies, their families, friends, medical providers and advocates can continue to educate and promote awareness with the most up-to-date food allergy information, facts and statistics;
- the 15 million Americans living with food allergies have an advocate;
- the researchers who are working tirelessly to determine why food allergies are on the rise, and to find a cure, are adequately funded; and
- the food allergy related “where to starts” will soon be a thing of the past.
There are many things that we have taken away from FARE Walks, including the support of the food allergy community, the knowledge that we are all in this together and the understanding that by supporting FARE at a Food Allergy Heroes Walk, together we can be the movement that ends the need for the answers to the food allergy…where to starts. To be a part of the movement, this is where you should start: http://www.foodallergywalk.org.
Courtney Floyd is the mom of a four-year-old girl who is allergic to peanuts, treenuts, dairy, sesame, eggs, soy, sunflower, bananas, oats and carrots. She is one of FARE’s Food Allergy Heroes – walking in San Antonio, Texas.